August 22, 2013
What a bizarre race.
If you think you’ve seen it all in track and field, then you need to watch the women’s 800m at the 2013 DN Galan in Stockholm to make sure.
The field featured the surprise 2013 World 800m Champion Eunice Sum of Kenya, the bronze medallist Brenda Martinez of the USA and places 4-5-6 including Americans Alysia Montano and Ajee Wilson.
The big question mark in the field was World 1500m champion Abeba Aregawi of Sweden. How would she do dropping down in distance?
(Full race video at bottom of this article or here)
The first 400m of this one went as expected. Rabbit Yekaterina Kupina of Russia led the field through 400m in 57.12 with Alysia Montano giving chase. Kupina led through 500m and then kept going on the backstretch. As she approached 600m, she began to slow but instead of stepping off the track she stayed in lane 2 and the field had to go around her.
The front running Montano was trying a different tactic. 600m was reached in 1:28.98 but just before 600m, Montano gave up the lead to the World Champion Sum and American junior record holder Ajee Wilson, who made a big move on the back stretch.
Sum led in lane 1 around the final bend with Wilson on her outside. Behind them Montano was tucked into lane 1 with Malika Akkaoui of Morocco on her outside shoulder. Those 4 cane around the final bend tightly bunched. Montano them tried to get out of her box. She jumped out into lane 2, and clipped Akkaoui in the process but was able to get through with a clear line of site to the finish in lane 2.
Sum led in lane 1 on the homsetretch. Wilson was between lane 1/2 giving chase and Montano was all alone in lane 2 trying to go after both of them. Halfway down the homestretch Montano had passed Wilson and was giving chase to Sum. Sum was still in lane 1, Montano for some reason was now in lane 3.
Montano kept slowly closing on Sum and drifting further outward. Soon Montano was in lane 4. She was getting close to Sum, but there wasn’t a lot of running left. Could she get her by the line? No. Sum finished just .12 ahead of Montano who ended up inexplicably in lane 5. We’ve never seen anything like it.
definitely would have been your winner if she somehow could not have drifted out 5 lanes and kept the same pace. Instead she finished in lane 5 and just .12 away from a $10,000 win.
(Editor’s note: This thread has a discussion of Montano drifting out and we’re open to the possibility she may still have lost if she had not finished in lane 5 even though she was only .12 from first).
Akkaoui battled back to pass Wilson for third, then there was a gap to Poistogova in 5th. Aregawi was never a factor in this one in 6th in 2:01.22 and Brenda Martinez did not have her late charge and finished 7th in 2:01.54.
Photos of Alysia and her position below.
|Start of Final Straight|
|2/3 of Straight|
Quick takes: More Heartbreak for Montano
Alysia went for the win in Moscow and paid the steepest price, cratering down the homestretch, ending up face first on the track in tears, just missing a bronze medal.
She altered her tactics here and as a result had something left the final 100m. She would have picked up a nice consolation win here except she drifted out into lane 5. The drifting must be something she can’t control, but it’s got to be something she addresses. In Moscow, she ended up in lane three and it cost her the bronze (Brenda Martinez came through in lane 1 for the bronze). Here it cost her $4000 (difference between first and second).
We liked Montano trying a slightly different tactic and liked seeing her not go out quite as hard on the first lap like she did here. The optimal strategy isn’t lead, get boxed in, and then sprint for home like she did here, but it has to be very uncomfortable for Alysia to give up the lead. She did that here and still had a good final 100m except for the part of ending up in lane 5.
Ajee Wilson Has Arrvied
This was the first race all year on the circuit where Ajee Wilson looked like she was trying to win and could win. The youngster came very close to a surprise medal in Moscow and here she was in her next race battling for the lead with the World champ onto the final straight. Wilson made a very dramatic move on the backstretch to get into contention. A more gradual move and this one could have turned out differently.
Ajee’s is no longer just the World Junior Champion with a very bright future who is outclassed at the senior level. She now is an immediate factor on the world stage. And her future looks very, very bright.
Brenda Martinez Still Has the Bronze Medal
Not a good run by Martinez, but none of that takes away her bronze medal. On a slower pace like today Brenda has to be closer to the front of the race when the kicking starts and she wasn’t. To top it off with the rabbit not getitng out of the way, moving up from the back was even harder.
The 800m is not Aregawi’s event but she had already run 1:59 this year. We expected better before the Swedish crowd.
Eunice Sum Backs Up Her World Title
Sum was one of the bigger surprises in Moscow. Nothing spectacular about today’s run but it was Sum’s first Diamond League victory. She kept the momentum going.
800 Metres - Women Pts 1 Sum , Eunice Jepkoech KEN 1:58.84 4 2 Johnson Montano , Alysia USA 1:58.96 2 3 Akkaoui , Malika MAR 1:59.74 1 4 Wilson , Ajee USA 1:59.96 5 Poistogova , Ekaterina RUS 2:00.63 6 Aregawi , Abeba SWE 2:01.22 7 Martinez , Brenda USA 2:01.54 8 Hinriksdóttir , Aníta ISL 2:02.17 Okoro , Marilyn GBR DNF Kupina , Yekaterina RUS DNF
Full race video